Hanukkah Facts
Hanukkah Facts

23 Interesting Hanukkah Facts and Trivia

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published March 13, 2023
  • Hanukkah celebrates the Jews' recovery of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Second Temple in the 2nd century BCE.[2]
  • Foods are fried in oil for Hanukkah to symbolize the oil that miraculously burned for 8 nights during the Jerusalem temple's rededication (2nd century BCE), even though there was only enough oil for one day.[5]
  • The 9th/middle candle of a menorah is used to light all the other candles during Hanukkah. Known as a shammash, or helper candle, this candle can either be wax or oil-fueled.[4]
  • Menorah Facts
    This is a Chanukah. Note that it has 9 candles instead of just 7
  • "Chanukiah" strictly refers to a Hanukkah menorah (9 branches), while "menorah" can mean any type of Jewish lamp, including a Chanukiah.[7]
  • The two most popular Hanukkah foods in the Ashkenazi communities are latkes (fried potato pancakes) and jelly donuts (sufganiyot). Sephardic Jews eat other fried treats, including bimelos and sfenj.[5]
  • Because the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar, Hanukkah doesn't fall on the same day every year.[2]
  • The story of Hanukkah is found in the books of the First and Second Maccabees. Here, the author describes the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah.[2]
  • In 1951, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion presented President Harry Truman with a Hanukkah menorah, marking one of the earliest instances of Hanukkah at the White House.[2]
  • The term Hanukkah means "dedication."[2]
  • Chanukah Facts
    "Hanukkah" or "Chanukah" means dedication because it celebrates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem

  • Both Chanukah and Hanukkah are correct spellings of the Jewish holiday.[8]
  • It's not impossible for Hanukkah and Thanksgiving to overlap. When the two holidays overlapped in 2013, the holidays were nicknamed "Thanksgivukkah." The next Thanksgivukkah will occur in 2070.[2]
  • In 1993, astronaut Jeff Hoffman celebrated Hanukkah on the Space Shuttle Endeavor with a dreidel and a portable menorah. However, there was, of course, no candle lighting.[3]
  • There are over 16 different ways to spell Hanukkah. There is no one correct way to spell the Jewish holiday.[12]
  • A dreidel is a four-sided top with different Hebrew letters on each side. The letters on dreidel are nun, gimmel, hey, and shin, which stands for the Hebrew phrase "a great miracle happened there."[2]
  • Dreidel Facts
    The dreidel is a Jewish variant of the teetotum, a gambling toy in many cultures

  • Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights.[2]
  • Olive oil is used to both light the candles and to prepare for Hanukkah.[10]
  • In modern Israel, over 18 million sufganiyot (donuts) are eaten in the weeks around Hanukkah, which is over 3 doughnuts per citizen.[11]
  • After lighting the menorah, it's customary to sing "Maoz Tzur" or "Rock of Ages," which is the song about the Maccabees' fight for freedom.[6]
  • The most expensive menorah in the world is valued at over half a million dollars. The Rintel Menorah is 266 years old and is currently on display in the Amsterdam Jewish Historical Museum.[9]
  • Hanukkah history
    Because of its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah has become more popular, but it's actually a minor Jewish holiday
  • Even though it is one of the most famous, Hanukkah isn't a major Jewish holiday. In fact, it isn't considered among the faiths' sacred High Holy Days, and it isn't mentioned in the Torah. It started to become widely celebrated in the late 1800s because of its proximity to Christmas.[2]
  • Hanukkah, which symbolizes fighting against darkness, is a more egalitarian holiday because women throughout the centuries have been thought of as "keepers of the light."[2]
  • The world's largest menorah is at Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza. It is 32 feet tall, 28 feet wide, and it weights 4,000 pounds.[12]
  • Celebrities who celebrate Hanukkah include Natalie Portman, Emily Rossum, Drake, Seth Rogan, Andre Garfield, Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jonah Hill, Sarah Silverman, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller.[1]
  • Amazing Hanukkah facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Hanukkah Infographic and Facts

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